Archives for posts with tag: Gut Flora

By Dr. Mercola

Mounting research suggests that your microbiome—colonies of bacteria, viruses, and other microbes living in your gut—may be one of the preeminent factors determining your health and longevity.

Feeding health-promoting gut bacteria with a healthy diet, avoiding hospitals (which are hotbeds for drug-resistant bacteria), and boycotting processed foods and animal foods raised in confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs)—both of which tend to have an adverse effect on your microbiome—may be keystone strategies for longevity.

Beneficial Microbes Prevent Disease

A number of studies have begun to identify specific species of bacteria that appear to have specialized functions and abilities to prevent disease.

For example, in one study, DNA analysis of diseased sections of intestine removed from patients suffering from Crohn’s disease revealed that one particular bacterium, Faecalibacterium prausnitzii, was lower than normal.

While researchers have linked the presence of specific bacteria to various diseases, this finding suggests certain species may be actively involved in preventing certain disease states.

When Faecalibacterium prausnitzii was transferred into mice, it protected them against induced intestinal inflammation, suggesting this particular species may play an important anti-inflammatory role in the human microbiota. As reported by Scientific American:1

“Each of us harbors a teeming ecosystem of microbes that outnumbers the total number of cells in the human body by a factor of 10 to one and whose collective genome is at least 150 times larger than our own. 

In 2012 the National Institutes of Health completed the first phase of the Human Microbiome Project, a multimillion-dollar effort to catalogue and understand the microbes that inhabit our bodies. The microbiome varies dramatically from one individual to the next and can change quickly over time in a single individual… 

[A] burgeoning body of research suggests that the makeup of this complex microbial ecosystem is closely linked with our immune function. Some researchers now suspect that, aside from protecting us from infection, one of the immune system’s jobs is to cultivate, or ‘farm,’ the friendly microbes that we rely on to keep us healthy.” 

Specific Microbes with Health-Promoting Functions

One group of microbes that appear important for maintaining healthy immune function is the clostridial group of microbes—ironically enough, this group is related to Clostridium difficile, which can cause severe and life-threatening intestinal infections.

But whereas C. difficile prompts chronic inflammation, the clostridial clusters help maintain a healthy and well-functioning gut barrier, preventing inflammatory agents from entering your bloodstream.

The featured research suggests that while certain genetic factors can predispose you to inflammatory bowel diseases like Crohn’s, it’s actually the loss of anti-inflammatory microbes that ultimately allow the disease to blossom. As noted by Scientific American:2

“[A]lthough… other good bacteria besides F. prausnitzii exist, this similarity hinted at a potential one-size-fits-all remedy for Crohn’s and possibly other inflammatory disorders: restoration of peacekeeping microbes… 

The tremendous microbial variation now evident among people has forced scientists to rethink how these communities work. Whereas a few years ago they imagined a core set of human-adapted microbes common to us all, they are now more likely to discuss core functions—specific jobs fulfilled by any number of microbes.”

Inflammatory bowel diseases are not the only health problems affected alterations in your microbiome. Other research has found that onset of type 1 diabetes (an autoimmune disease) in young children tends to be preceded by a change in gut bacteria.

Previous research has also found that certain microbes can help prevent type 1 diabetes, suggesting your gut flora may indeed be an epigenetic factor that plays a significant role in this condition.

Research also suggests there’s a connection between certain types of bacteria and body fat that produces a heightened inflammatory response that contributes to the metabolic dysfunction associated with type 2 diabetes.

In addition, preliminary research3  presented in 2010 revealed that transplanting fecal matter from healthy thin people into obese people with metabolic syndrome led to an improvement in insulin sensitivity, again suggesting that such conditions can be effectively addressed by correcting the microbial composition of your gut.

Antibiotic Overuse Has Fueled More Deadly Infections

Just as some bacteria help prevent disease, others promote it. One such bacterium is Clostridium difficile,4 the prevalence of which has steadily risen as a result of massive antibiotic overuse, especially in farm animals.

According to the latest statistics released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), half a million Americans were infected with Clostridium difficile in 2011, and 29,000 of them died within a month of diagnosis.5,,7Besides the human death toll, fighting C. difficile costs hospitals a staggering $4.8 billion per year.8

Hospitals are the number one location where you’re apt to contract this type of infection, but the CDC also notes that many appear to have contracted it during visits to doctor’s and dental offices.9 Nursing homes are also hotbeds for this hard-to-treat infection. As reported by Reuters:10

“The study11 by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention focused on the Clostridium difficile bacterium, which can cause deadly diarrhea. The findings… highlight how overprescription of antibiotics has fueled a rise in bacteria that are resistant to treatment.

People who take antibiotics are most at risk of acquiring C. difficile because these medications also wipe out ‘good’ bacteria that protect a healthy person against the infection. 

‘Antibiotics are clearly driving this whole problem,’ Clifford McDonald, CDC senior advisor for science and integrity, said… One in every three infections occurred in patients 65 and older, the study found, with more than 100,000 C. difficile cases found in US nursing homes.”

Fecal Transplants Found Effective Against C. Difficile Infections

One novel treatment that has been shown to be quite effective against C. difficile infections is the fecal transplant.12 Fecal microbiota transplant (FMT) is a relatively simple procedure that involves taking feces from a healthy donor and transferring it to the patient during a colonoscopy.

The patient basically receives a transplanted population of healthy flora that can go to work correcting any number of gastrointestinal problems, including C. difficile infection.

According to Dr. Mark Mellow, medical director of the Digestive Health Center at Integris Baptist Medical Center in Oklahoma City, fecal transplants lead to rapid resolution of symptoms in 98 percent of patients with Clostridium difficile who have not responded to other treatments.

While I believe fecal transplantation can be lifesaving in some circumstances, I want to make it clear that you will likely never have to resort to receiving donated feces if you address your gut health on a daily basis—by avoiding factors that kill off your beneficial gut bacteria, and continuously “reseeding” your gut through a healthy diet and regular use of fermented vegetables. Also, any time you take an antibiotic, it is important to take probiotics and/or fermented vegetables to repopulate the beneficial bacteria in your gut that are killed by the antibiotic, right along with the pathogenic bacteria. If you don’t, you’re leaving the door wide open for further health problems.

Beware of the Risks of Hospital-Acquired Infections

Hospitals are notorious hotbeds for drug-resistant disease, and hospital-acquired infections now affect one in 25 patients! Some of these infections are resistant to antibiotics, which is why avoiding hospitals, barring an acute, life-threatening condition, is good advice. You could enter with a minor ailment only to come out with one that is much worse…

In an effort to rein in some of these hospital-acquired drug-resistant infections, the US government is now finalizing new cleaning protocols for duodenoscopes13,14—camera-equipped flexible tubes that are threaded through your mouth, down your throat, through your stomach into the top of your small intestine. These reusable medical instruments have been implicated in a number of hospital-acquired drug-resistant outbreaks. In the latest outbreak, two of the seven patients affected died. The family members of one of them recently spoke out,15 chastising the hospital for not disclosing the risks of contracting such lethal infections upon admission.

According to Dr. John Allen, president of the American Gastroenterological Association:16 “This problem has been known since at least 1987. It certainly is disturbing that a fundamental design issue with these scopes would cause problems for this long.”

Factory Farming Is a Major Promoter of Antibiotic-Resistant Pathogens

While antibiotics are certainly overprescribed in medicine, the primary driver of deadly “superbugs” is actually factory farming. Animals raised in CAFOs are routinely given low doses of antibiotics to promote growth and prevent diseases resulting from the crowded and unsanitary conditions of these facilities. Eighty percent of all antibiotics sold in the US are fed to livestock, so eating CAFO-raised foods is likely to be the greatest source of antibiotics for many people.

Not only may this low-dose ingestion of antibiotics have an adverse effect on the composition of your microbiome, thereby affecting your health, about half of all meats sold in American grocery stores have also been found to harbor drug-resistant bacteria that can cause severe food-borne illness. This is one of the reasons why I recommend eating only organically-raised, grass-fed or pastured meats and other animal products, such as dairy and eggs, as organic standards do not permit non-medical use of antibiotics.

Processed Food Ingredients That Decimate Your Microbiome

Besides avoiding CAFO-raised animal food products, you’d also be wise to reconsider your consumption of processed foods of all kinds. Not only are processed foods very high in added sugars—high fructose corn syrup in particular—but recent research has also found that emulsifiers found in processed foods have a very detrimental effect on your microbiome. As reported by Time Magazine:17

“Ingredients such as polysorbate 80, lecithin, carrageenan, polyglycerols, and xanthan and other ‘gums,’ all of which keep ingredients—often oils and fats—from separating. They are also used to improve the texture and shelf-life of many foods found on supermarket shelves, from ice cream and baked goods, to salad dressings, veggie burgers, non-dairy milks, and hamburger patties. Now, a new study18… suggests these ingredients may also be contributing to the rising incidence of obesity, metabolic syndrome, and inflammatory bowel disease by interfering with microbes in the gastrointestinal tract.”

In this study, widely used food additives caused chronic colitis in mice with already abnormal immune systems. In mice with healthy immune function, they resulted in mild intestinal inflammation and subsequent metabolic dysfunction that led to obesity, hyperglycemia, and insulin resistance. Most notably, the emulsifiers were fed at levels that an average person would be exposed to if eating a lot of processed foods, suggesting these additives may indeed affect the health of many Americans.

Food additives such as these are all approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), again highlighting the severe limitation of our current regulatory system. A 2013 study19 published in the journal Reproductive Toxicology found that nearly 80 percent of the food additives approved by the FDA lack testing information that would help the agency estimate the amount people can safely consume before suffering health consequences…

Optimizing Your Gut Flora May Be One of Your Most Important Disease Prevention Strategies

Overusing antibiotics on humans and animals that do not need them has led to a pandemic of antibiotic-resistant disease, and both medical and agricultural uses are in dire need of serious revisions. Unfortunately, such changes are slow in the making, and I advise you not to wait for the food and medical industry to correct the problem. It seems quite clear that optimizing your gut flora may be one of the most important things you can do for your health, and here you can wield your personal power to the fullest, by making healthy food and medical choices.

Not only can optimizing your gut health help normalize your weight and ward off diabetes, it’s also a critical component for a well-functioning immune system, which is your primary defense against all sorts of disease—including infections. Reseeding your gut with beneficial bacteria is key for preventing pathogenic microbes and fungi from taking over and wreaking havoc with your health. To optimize your microbiome, keep the following recommendations in mind:

  • Eat plenty of fermented foodsTraditionally fermented and cultured foods are one of the best routes to optimal digestive health. Healthy choices include lassi, fermented grass-fed organic milk such as kefir, various pickled fermentations of cabbage, turnips, eggplant, cucumbers, onions, squash and carrots, and natto (fermented soy). Fermented vegetables, are an excellent way to supply beneficial bacteria back into our gut. And, unlike some other fermented foods, they tend to be palatable, if not downright delicious, to most people. As an added bonus, they can also a great source of vitamin K2 if you ferment your own using a starter culture that is optimized with bacterial strains that produce high levels of vitamin K2.
  • Take a probiotic supplement. Although I’m not a major proponent of taking many supplements (as I believe the majority of your nutrients need to come from food), probiotics is an exception if you don’t eat fermented foods on a regular basis.

In addition to knowing what to add to your diet and lifestyle, it’s equally important to know what to avoid, and these include:

Antibiotics, unless absolutely necessary (and when you do, make sure to reseed your gut with fermented foods and/or a probiotic supplement) Conventionally-raised meats and other animal products, as CAFO animals are routinely fed low-dose antibiotics, plus genetically engineered grains, which have also been implicated in the destruction of gut flora Processed foods. Excessive sugars, along with otherwise “dead” nutrients, feed pathogenic bacteria. Food emulsifiers such as polysorbate 80, lecithin, carrageenan, polyglycerols, and xanthan gum also appear to have an adverse effect on your gut flora.20

Unless 100% organic, they may also contain GMOs that tend to be heavily contaminated with pesticides such as glyphosate

Chlorinated and/or fluoridated water Antibacterial soap Agricultural chemicals, glyphosate(Roundup) in particular

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In her recent article she makes a very stark warning that by the year 2025, half of all American children could have autism. That’s an alarming increase over one decade.

She claims it all comes down to a chemical called glyphosate, commonly found in Monsanto’s herbicide, RoundUp. So what happens when a human comes in contact with that chemical?

http://www.anh-usa.org/half-of-all-ch…

http://www.biofortified.org/2015/01/m…
Read more at http://investmentwatchblog.com/mit-doctor-links-glyphosate-to-autism-spike-dr-stephanie-seneff/#IGHlPGpp22MtEPpq.99

By Dr. Mercola

Your body is loaded with bacteria, of both good and bad varieties. In fact, about 100 trillion bacteria live inside you, which is more than 10 times the number of cells you have in your body! The ideal balance between these bacteria is about 85 percent “good” and 15 percent “bad”. This ratio is one of the critical factors determining your health, as the good bacteria are essential for:

  • The proper development of your immune system
  • Protection against over-growth of other microorganisms that could cause disease
  • Digestion of food and absorption of nutrients
  • Influencing gene activity and expression

Fascinating Discovery: Bacteria are in Constant Communication with Each Other

In the featured video above, Bonnie Bassler with Princeton New Jersey, explains a radical discovery related to all these bacteria housed within your body.

It turns out that bacteria (both good and bad) have a very sophisticated way of communicating with each other, and once they receive the signal that their numbers are sufficient to carry out their genetic function, they launch into action as a synchronized unit.

This lets them both coordinate their defenses and/or mount attacks—a fact that has stunning implications for medicine. For example, new medicines that interfere with this line of communication between dangerous bacteria could provide a revolutionary new form of antibiotics.

Since bacteria are single-celled organisms, they have only one string of DNA. Hence they contain very few genes, which encode the traits they’re supposed to carry out. The way bacteria multiply is by consuming nutrients from their environment, grow to twice their size, and then divide down the middle. We’ve known for some time that once bacteria reach a critical mass, they can overwhelm your immune system. But no one understood the mechanism behind it, until now…

How Bacteria Communicate

Researchers have discovered that bacteria communicate with each other using a chemical language called “quorum sensing.” As it turns out, every type of bacteria make and secrete small molecules. When a bacterium is alone, these molecules simply float away. But when there’s a large enough group of bacteria, these secreted molecules increase in proportion to the number of bacteria emitting them. When the molecules reach a certain amount, the bacteria can tell how many neighbors it has, and suddenly all the bacteria begin to act as a synchronized group, based on the group behavior programmed into its genes.

But that’s not all. Not only do bacteria communicate in this way between their own species; they’re all “multi-lingual,” and can determine the presence and strength of other bacterial colonies!

Essentially, they can count how many of its own kind there are compared to the amount of another species. They then use that information to decide what tasks to carry out, depending on who’s in a minority and who’s in the majority of any given population of bacteria.

This information can have any number of implications for science and medicine. For example, they’re already working on a new generation of antibiotics that can jam the sensing mechanism of a specific pathogen rather than killing it. They’re also considering creating pro-quorum sensing drugs that can boost the communication between beneficial bacteria to make them operate more efficiently.

Optimizing Your Gut Flora is Crucial for Good Health

There may be far more complexity to this picture than what we’re currently seeing. However, the finding is an intriguing one, and may lead to all sorts of new discoveries about how your body works to maintain optimal health. One thing is becoming quite evident however, and that is the importance of optimizing your intestinal flora.

Unfortunately, many are still unaware of the fact that the micro-organisms living in their digestive tracts form a very important “inner ecosystem” that influences countless aspects of health. More specifically, the type and quantity of organisms in your gut interact with your body in ways that can either prevent or encourage the development of many diseases, including mental health problems. This becomes easier to understand once you know that:

  1. About 80 percent of your immune system is located in your gut, and
  2. Your gut quite literally functions as your second brain, as it is created of the same tissue. During fetal development, one part turns into your central nervous system while the other develops into your enteric nervous system. These two systems are connected via the vagus nerve, the tenth cranial nerve that runs from your brain stem down to your abdomen

So truly, your gut flora influences both physiology and psychology. As explained by Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride (below), a medical doctor with a postgraduate degree in neurology, toxicity in your gut can flow throughout your body and into your brain, where it can cause symptoms of autism, ADHD, dyslexia, dyspraxia, depression, schizophrenia and other mental disorders. She believes the epidemic of autism and other learning disorders originate in the gut, and manifest as a condition known as Gut and Psychology Syndrome (GAPS).

GAPS can also stand for Gut and Physiology Syndrome, which is the title of her second book, which is currently being written. In both cases, the treatment is identical—”heal and seal” your gut, and continually feed it beneficial bacteria to maintain the ideal ratio of good and bad bacteria.

Download Interview Transcript

Why Children’s Gut Flora Should Ideally Be Tested within Days of Birth

If your child has the metabolic characteristics of GAPS, they are predisposed to vaccine damage, and should therefore NOT be immunized until it has been reversed. In fact, Dr. Campbell-McBride’s book Gut and Psychology Syndrome1 contains an entire chapter outlining what health care professionals need to do to improve the vaccination strategy, because the standard vaccination protocol is bound to damage GAPS babies.

Fortunately, it is possible to identify GAPS within the first weeks of your baby’s life, which can help you make better informed decisions about vaccinations, and how to proceed to set your child on the path to a healthy life.

One of the KEY issues is to screen all children BEFORE they are immunized, and if they have the metabolic characteristics of GAPS, they should avoid inoculations until that is reversed. Dr. Campbell describes the entire process in 2, but in summary, the tests involve analyzing a stool sample to determine the state of your baby’s gut flora, followed by a urine test to check for metabolites, which can give you a picture of the state of your child’s immune system.

These non-invasive tests are available in most laboratories around the world, and typically run around $80-100 each in the US. This is pocket-change compared to the incredible expense of treating an autistic child once the damage is done…  If you’re pregnant, planning a pregnancy, or know someone who is, I can’t recommend Dr. Campbell-McBride’s book3 enough. You can also find more information on her website: http://www.GAPS.me4, and on her blog at http://www.doctor-natasha.com5.

Is Your Gut Flora Damaged?

Your gut bacteria are very vulnerable to your lifestyle. If you eat a lot of sugar and refined grains for instance, your gut bacteria are going to be compromised because sugar feeds bad bacteria and yeast. Your gut bacteria are also very sensitive to:

Processed foods Antibiotics Chlorinated/fluoridated drinking water
Antibacterial soap Agricultural chemicals Pollution

It’s really no wonder that poor gut health is more the norm than the exception these days, especially in the Western world. The good news though, is that you CAN optimize your bacterial population rather easily, and any damage to your intestines can also be reversed.  Dr. Campbell-McBride’s GAPS Nutritional Program is designed to heal and restore the integrity and function of your gut lining. I highly recommend it, particularly if you suffer from any form of autoimmunity- and inflammatory disease, such as:

Multiple sclerosis Type 1 diabetes Rheumatoid arthritis Osteoarthritis
Lupus Crohn’s disease Ulcerative colitis Chronic skin conditions
Kidney problems Urinary conditions Allergic and atopic conditions Degenerative conditions
Chronic fatigue syndrome Fibromyalgia Myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME) Inflammatory bowel diseases

Certain Foods Naturally Promote Healthy Gut Flora

Probiotic supplements are widely available, and if you choose a high-quality version, they are very effective in helping to “reseed” your intestinal tract with good bacteria. Though I don’t recommend taking excessive amounts of supplements, a high-quality probiotic is one of my exceptions. That said, long before the invention of the probiotic supplement, native peoples benefitted from probiotics by way of cultured or fermented foods, and these are fundamental part of any healthy diet.

Cultured foods like yogurt and fermented vegetables are excellent sources of natural, healthy bacteria, provided they are not pasteurized.  The following video features Caroline Barringer, a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner (NTP), who is an expert in the preparation of the foods prescribed in Dr. Campbell-McBride’s GAPS program. Here she discusses the process of fermenting your own vegetables—it’s actually much easier than you might think, and taste great too!

Download Interview Transcript

Caroline recommends eating about a quarter to a half a cup of fermented vegetables, or cultured food such as raw yoghurt, per day. Kombucha, a fermented drink, is another great addition to your diet. The key is variety. The greater the variety of fermented and cultured foods you include in your diet, the better, as each food will inoculate your gut with a variety of different microorganisms. Examples of fermented and cultured foods include:

Yoghurt/Kefir made from raw milk Kombucha Fermented vegetables, such as olives, pickles, sauerkraut and more Raw milk cheeses made from grass-fed milk
Miso Natto Tempeh Kimchee

Another oft-forgotten boon of fermented foods is that they are some of the best chelators available. The beneficial bacteria in these foods are very potent detoxifiers, capable of drawing out a wide range of toxins and heavy metals from your body. According to Dr. Campbell-McBride, the GAPS Nutritional Protocol restores your own detoxification system in about 90 percent of people, and the fermented/cultured foods are instrumental in this self-healing process. If you eat them on a regular basis (ideally, daily) you will keep your digestive tract well supplied with good bacteria.

There may still be times when a probiotic supplement is necessary, such as when you stray from your healthy diet and consume excess grains or sugar, if you have to take antibiotics, when traveling to foreign countries or when eating at suspicious restaurants. But use the supplement as it’s intended — as a “supplement” to, not a replacement for, cultured foods.

Additional Resources

In addition to the wealth of information shared in the interview above, I highly recommend getting the book Gut and Psychology Syndrome, which provides all the necessary details for the GAPS protocol. We were finally able to convince Dr. Campbell-McBride to print it in the U.S., so I now offer it for sale in my store. It saves you a few dollars, compared to ordering it from the U.K..

www.Immunitrition.com is another helpful resource where you can learn more about cultured and fermented foods. If you’re so inclined, you can also find information about how to become a Certified Healing Foods Specialist here.

Additionally, if for whatever reason you just don’t have the time, effort, energy, ambition, motivation, or discipline to ferment your own foods, but you understand and appreciate the value of them, Caroline has a company that sells them. I used hers for a month before I started making my own. So, if you just want to put your toe in the water and see if you like them, you can order a jar or two and try them out. I feel very strongly that if we can catalyze a movement to get more people to implement this ancient dietary wisdom to their normal eating patterns, then we’ll start seeing a radical change in health.

Source: http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2014/10/27/broccoli-sprouts-autism.aspx

  • Sulforaphane, found in high amounts in broccoli sprouts, can significantly improve your blood pressure and kidney function by normalizing a process called DNA methylation
  • Preliminary research suggests sulforaphane may also be of particular benefit for those with autism—improving verbal communication and decreasing repetitive behaviors
  • Broccoli has the ability to affect gene expression and promote detoxification of harmful environmental pollutants
  • Sulforaphane influences bacteria as well. Broccoli sprouts have been shown to inhibit Helicobacter pylori, the bacteria thought to cause gastric ulcers. H. pylori may also play a role in autism
  • Autistic children are known to have higher levels of environmental toxins in their system, as well as fewer health-promoting gut bacteria

Science has proven time after time that food is potent medicine.  Broccoli, for example, has a solid scientific foundation showing it’s one of the most valuable health-promoting foods around.

For example, a compound in broccoli, glucosinolateglucoraphanin, produces a metabolite called sulforaphane that can significantly improve your blood pressure and kidney function1 by normalizing a process called DNA methylation.

Interestingly, preliminary research suggests sulforaphane may also be of particular benefit for those with autism—improving verbal communication and decreasing repetitive behaviors.

Broccoli Compound May Improve Symptoms of Autism

While limited in scope, the study still shows that food is an important part of the treatment plan for autism, and can have a significant impact on behavior. A total of 44 boys and men diagnosed with autism were enrolled in the study.

Some received sulforaphane in capsule form, while the controls received a placebo. As reported by Time Magazine:2

“The compound was chosen because it can help trigger a heat-shock response, a series of biological events that protect cells from stress during fevers; some people with autism have been known to see improvement in regard to repetitive behaviors, for example, during fevers.

Around 80 percent of the participants had a history of experiencing the ‘fever effect.’”

Positive results were observed within as little as four weeks. Communication improved, as did symptoms of hyperactivity and irritability. By the end of the 18-week study, about 50 percent of those receiving sulforaphane experienced improved ability to interact socially.

About one-third of those treated did not have any noticeable results however, so more research needs to be done to ascertain how and why the compound works in certain cases. Still, considering the many health benefits of broccoli, there’s certainly no reason to avoid it.

On the contrary, I believe part of the reason for its beneficial effect on autistic symptoms may be related to its ability to affect gene expression, inhibit certain detrimental gut bacteria, and promote detoxification of harmful environmental pollutants.

All of these factors play a role in autism, and pretty much anything that will have a beneficial effect on them is likely to be useful to some degree.

Sulforaphane Benefits Gene Expression and Gut Health

Sulforaphane is an organic sulfur compound found in cruciferous vegetables, including broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, horseradish, and arugula—but broccoli sprouts is the richest source.

Sulforaphane has been shown to have antimicrobial properties. It also kills cancer stem cells, which slows tumor growth. As noted earlier, it also normalizes DNA methylation, which plays a role in a number of diseases, including hypertension, kidney function,3 gut health,4 and cancer.

In simple terms, DNA methylation5 is the process by which a methyl group (one carbon atom attached to three hydrogen atoms) is added to part of a DNA molecule.

This is a crucial part of normal cell function as it allows cells to “remember who they are and where they have been.” DNA methylation also suppresses viral- and other disease-related gene expression.

Sulforaphane influences bacteria as well. For example, broccoli sprouts have been shown to inhibit Helicobacter pylori, the bacteria thought to cause gastric ulcers. Interestingly, H. pylori may also play a role in autism.

It is widely known that autistic children tend to suffer from gastrointestinal (GI) problems, with those experiencing the worst GI problems often having the most severe cases of autism.

In one study,6 researchers analyzed the gut microflora of 20 healthy and 20 autistic children using fecal samples, and found distinct differences between the two groups.

Specifically, those with autism had reduced levels of Prevotella, Coprococcus,and Veillonellaceae, compared to healthy children. These belong to groups of carbohydrate-degrading and/or fermenting microbes, and may be critical for healthy interactions between microbes in the gut.

The presentation below discusses the links between H. pylori and autism and language delays, noting that H. pylori can instigate leaky gut and influences genes associated with the speech disorder apraxia7 that affects many autistic children.

Other Health Benefits of Broccoli

Other research has shown that broccoli can be helpful in the prevention of:

  • Heart disease
  • UV radiation damage to your skin when applied topically8
  • Osteoarthritis9101112
  • Allergies13
  • Diabetes14

The sulforaphane from broccoli plays a role in activating more than 200 different genes, which accounts for its varied effects. Fortunately, you don’t have to consume vast volumes of broccoli to reap its benefits. In one study,15 just four servings of broccoli—about 10 broccoli spears—per week was found to protect men from prostate cancer.

Broccoli Sprouts Combat Exposure to Environmental Pollutants

Another major benefit of broccoli sprouts relates to its ability to detox pollutants, as demonstrated in recent research.161718  This is important for virtually everyone these days, but especially women planning a pregnancy. Autistic children are known to have higher levels of environmental toxins in their system, and this underlying toxic burden plays a significant role.

For example, one recent study19, 202122 found that every one percent increase in genital malformations in newborn males within a particular US county was associated with a 283 percent increased rate in autism. According to the researchers, genital malformations are signs of exposure to harmful toxins.

The correlation between genital malformation and autism in turn offer strong support for the notion that autism is the result of parental overexposure to environmental toxins. Another study23 published last year also found that autistic children have markedly higher levels of toxic volatile organic compounds (VOCs). They also had fewer healthy bacteria, such as Bifidobacterium. With regards to the detoxifying powers of broccoli sprouts, Time Magazine noted that:24

“Broccoli sprouts specifically are a source of glucoraphanin, which creates sulforaphane when chewed or swallowed. That compound accelerates the body’s ability to detoxify from various pollutants…”

The three-month long study included about 300 Chinese men and women living one of the most polluted areas of China, a rural community in the Jiangsu Province. The test group drank half a cup a day of a beverage consisting of sterilized water, pineapple and lime juice, with dissolved freeze-dried broccoli sprout powder. The control group drank the same mixture without the addition of the sprouts.

After urine and blood tests were collected and analyzed, the researchers found that the test group, who received the broccoli sprout powder, excreted far greater levels of two carcinogens. Excretion of benzene increased 61 percent, and the rate of excretion of acrolein increased by 23 percent. Benzene is usually found in car exhaust fumes, but can also be ingested viasoda, where it can form from benzoate salt—used as a preservative. Acrolein forms from the breakdown of certain indoor air pollutants, from the burning of organic matter such as tobacco, and the burning of fuels like gasoline.

Factors That Likely Contribute to Autism

With autism spectrum disorder now affecting as many as one in 50 children,25 it seems reasonable to assume that there are MANY factors contributing to this problem. Evidence suggests it’s rooted in a combination of toxic overload and other aggravating factors, including but not limited to the following:

  • Gut dysbiosis, especially in combination with vaccines and their additives like mercury (thimerosal), aluminum, and others, which are known to damage your mitochondria—the powerhouses in your body’s cells that produce energy. Your gastrointestinal system is often referred to as your “second brain,” containing some 100 million neurons—more than in either your spinal cord or your peripheral nervous system.
  • Vitamin D deficiency. The link between vitamin D deficiency in pregnant women and the proportionate jump in autism has been highlighted by Dr. John Cannell. Vitamin D receptors appear in a wide variety of brain tissue early in the fetal development, and activated vitamin D receptors increase nerve growth in your brain. I believe vitamin D deficiency during pregnancy is a MAJOR contributing factor to autism, especially when you consider that vitamin D also helps in the detoxification of mercury. Without sufficient amounts of vitamin D, any subsequent toxic assaults—regardless of the source—will be further magnified.
  • Electromagnetic radiation (EMR) from cell phones, cell towers, and Wi-Fi devices, which can trap heavy metals inside of nerve cells, accelerate heavy metal toxicity, and hinder natural detoxification processes.
  • Microbial toxins, such as mold. Children with autism not only have overwhelmed detoxification pathways and often heavy metal toxicity, but, according to Dr. Klinghardt, their bodies are also frequently beset by toxic microbes, including neuro-borreliosis, and possibly other Lyme co-infections.
  • Mercury toxicity. Pregnant mothers may inadvertently contribute to their child’s toxic load via dental amalgams, 50 percent of which are mercury, a known neurotoxin.

Healing the Gut May Be Key for the Treatment of Autism

Getting back to the issue of food, while broccoli sprouts may certainly be useful, parents of autistic children would do well to consider implementing the GAPS diet. Women planning a pregnancy can also reduce their chances of having an autistic child by paying careful attention to their gut health, along with avoiding toxic exposures of all kinds.

GAPS stands for Gut and Psychology Syndrome, pioneered by neurologist Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride, who successfully reversed her son’s autism. In her research, she discovered that nearly all mothers of autistic children have abnormal gut flora, which is significant because babies inherit their gut flora from their mothers at the time of birth. Establishing normal gut flora in the first 20 days or so of life plays a crucial role in the maturation of your baby’s immune system.

Babies who develop abnormal gut flora have compromised immune systems, which put them at higher risk for suffering vaccine reactions. If your baby has suboptimal gut flora, vaccines can become the proverbial “last straw” — the trigger that “primes” his/her immune system to develop chronic health problems.  This helps explain why not every child is damaged by vaccines, and why autism rates keep rising. More children are now born with elevated toxicity levels and damaged gut flora right from the start… Such is the legacy of our increasingly toxic world. Tack on a few exacerbating factors, and the child’s body simply cannot handle the onslaught.

The best way to prevent GAPS is for the mother to avoid all processed foods, sugar, antibiotics (including CAFO meats and antibacterial soaps) and birth control pills prior to conception as these cause yeast and fungi to grow and also cause leaky gut. This can then be followed by breastfeeding and avoiding the use of antibiotics during (intrapartum) and after delivering.  It’s also a good idea to make sure your baby’s microbiome is healthy before getting any vaccinations. Fortunately, it’s possible to rather inexpensively identify GAPS within the first weeks of your baby’s life, which can help you make better-informed decisions about vaccinations, and about how to proceed to set your child on the path to a healthy life.

The entire process for identifying children who would be at risk for developing autism from a vaccine is described in her bookGut and Psychology Syndrome, but to sum it up, in her practice she starts out by collecting a complete health history of the parents, and their gut health is assessed. Then, within the first few days of life, the stool of the child can be analyzed to determine the state of her gut flora, followed by a urine test to check for metabolites, which can give you a picture of the state of your child’s immune system. These tests are available in most laboratories around the world and cost a very reasonable amount, about $80 to $100 per test.

In my view, it is absolutely VITAL to perform this analysis BEFORE you consider vaccinating your child. If the test results are normal, the likelihood of autism after vaccines is dramatically reduced. If you find that your baby has abnormal gut microflora, or begins to develop symptoms of autism a year or two later, the GAPS program should be started immediately, as the younger the child is when you start the treatment, the better the results.

 

By Dr. Mercola

While many think of their brain as the organ in charge of their mental health, your gut may actually play a far more significant role.

The big picture many of us understand is one of a microbial world that we just happen to be living in. Our actions interfere with these microbes, and they in turn respond having more effects to our individual health as well as the entire environment.

There is some truth to the old expression, having ‘dirt for brains’.  The microbes in our soil, on our plants, in our stomachs are all a result of our actions.  Antibiotics, herbicides, vaccines, and pesticides, and the tens of thousands of synthetic chemicals we’ve created all have impacts and result in reactions from these microbes.

Mounting research indicates that problems in your gut can directly impact your mental health, leading to issues like anxiety and depression.

The gut-brain connection is well-recognized as a basic tenet of physiology and medicine, so this isn’t all that surprising, even though it’s often overlooked. There’s also a wealth of evidence showing intestinal involvement in a variety of neurological diseases.

With this in mind, it should also be crystal clear that nourishing your gut flora is extremely important, because in a very real sense you have two brains, one inside your skull and one in your gut, and each needs its own vital nourishment. A recent article1 titled “Are Probiotics the New Prozac?” reviews some of the most recent supporting evidence.

Probiotics Alter Brain Function, Study Finds

The featured proof-of-concept study, conducted by researchers at UCLA, found that probiotics (beneficial bacteria) actually altered participants’ brain function. The study2 enlisted 36 women between the ages of 18 and 55 who were divided into three groups:

  • The treatment group ate yogurt containing several probiotics thought to have a beneficial impact on intestinal health, twice a day for one month
  • Another group ate a “sham” product that looked and tasted like the yogurt but contained no probiotics
  • Control group ate no product at all

Before and after the four-week study, participants underwent functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scans, both while in a state of rest, and in response to an “emotion-recognition task.”

For the latter, the women were shown a series of pictures of people with angry or frightened faces, which they had to match to other faces showing the same emotions.

“This task, designed to measure the engagement of affective and cognitive brain regions in response to a visual stimulus, was chosen because previous research in animals had linked changes in gut flora to changes in affective behaviors,” the researchers explained.

Compared to the controls, the women who consumed probiotic yogurt had decreased activity in two brain regions that control central processing of emotion and sensation:

  • The insular cortex (insula), which plays a role in functions typically linked to emotion (including perception, motor control, self-awareness, cognitive functioning, and interpersonal experience) and the regulation of your body’s homeostasis, and
  • The somatosensory cortex, which plays a role in your body’s ability to interpret a wide variety of sensations

During the resting brain scan, the treatment group also showed greater connectivity between a region known as the ‘periaqueductal grey’ and areas of the prefrontal cortex associated with cognition. In contrast, the control group showed greater connectivity of the periaqueductal grey to emotion- and sensation-related regions.

The fact that this study showed any improvement at all is remarkable, considering they used commercial yogurt preparations that are notoriously unhealthy; loaded with artificial sweeteners, colors, flavorings, and sugar. Most importantly, the vast majority of commercial yogurts have clinically insignificant levels of beneficial bacteria. Clearly, you would be far better off making your own yogurt from raw milk—especially if you’re seeking to address depression through dietary interventions.

Yes, Your Diet Affects Your Mood and Mental Health

According to lead author Dr. Kirsten Tillisch:34

“Time and time again, we hear from patients that they never felt depressed or anxious until they started experiencing problems with their gut. Our study shows that the gut–brain connection is a two-way street… ‘When we consider the implications of this work, the old sayings ‘you are what you eat’ and ‘gut feelings’ take on new meaning.’”

The implications are particularly significant in our current era of rampant depression and emotional “malaise.” And as stated in the featured article, the drug treatments available today are no better than they were 50 years ago. Clearly, we need a new approach, and diet is an obvious place to start.

Previous studies have confirmed that what you eat can alter the composition of your gut flora. Specifically, eating a high-vegetable, fiber-based diet produces a profoundly different composition of microbiota than a more typical Western diet high in carbs and processed fats. 

The featured research tells us that the composition of your gut flora not only affects your physical health, but also has a significant impact on your brain function and mental state. Previous research has also shown that certain probiotics can help alleviate anxiety:

  • The Journal of Neurogastroenterology and Motility5 reported the probiotic known as Bifidobacterium longum NCC3001 normalized anxiety-like behavior in mice with infectious colitis by modulating the vagal pathways within the gut-brain.
  • Other research6 found that the probiotic Lactobacillus rhamnosus had a marked effect on GABA levels—an inhibitory neurotransmitter that is significantly involved in regulating many physiological and psychological processes—in certain brain regions and lowered the stress-induced hormone corticosterone, resulting in reduced anxiety- and depression-related behavior. It is likely other lactobacillus species also provide this benefit, but this was the only one that was tested.

It’s important to realize that you have neurons both in your brain and your gut — including neurons that produce neurotransmitters like serotonin. In fact, the greatest concentration of serotonin, which is involved in mood control, depression and aggression, is found in your intestines, not your brain! Perhaps this is one reason why antidepressants, which raise serotonin levels in your brain, are often ineffective in treating depression, whereas proper dietary changes often help…

Your Gut Bacteria Are Vulnerable to Your Diet and Lifestyle

Processed, refined foods in general will destroy healthy microflora and feed bad bacteria and yeast, so limiting or eliminating these from your diet should be at the top of your list. Following my recently revised nutrition plan is a simple way to automatically reduce your intake of sugar from all sources. Processed foods wreak havoc on your gut in a number of different ways:

  • First, they are typically loaded with sugar, and avoiding sugar (particularly fructose) is in my view, based on the evidence, a critical aspect of preventing and/or treating depression. Not only will sugar compromise your beneficial gut bacteria by providing the preferred fuel for pathogenic bacteria, it also contributes to chronic inflammation throughout your body, including your brain.
  • Many contain artificial sweeteners and other synthetic additives that can wreak havoc with brain health. In fact, depression and panic attacks are two of the reported side effects of aspartame. Preliminary findings presented at the 65th annual meeting of the American Academy of Neurology also report that drinking sweetened beverages―whether they’re sweetened with sugar or artificial sweeteners—is associated with an increased risk of depression.7
  • Processed foods are also typically loaded with refined grains, which turn into sugar in your body. Wheat in particular has also been implicated in psychiatric problems, from depression to schizophrenia, due to Wheat Germ Agglutinin (WGA), which has neurotoxic activity.
  • The majority of processed foods also contain genetically engineered (GE) ingredients (primarily corn and soy), which have been shown to be particularly detrimental to beneficial bacteria. There are several mechanisms of harm at work here. For example:
    • Eating genetically engineered Bt corn may turn your intestinal flora into a sort of “living pesticide factory,” essentially manufacturing Bt-toxin from within your digestive system on a continuing basis
    • Beneficial gut bacteria are very sensitive to residual glyphosate (the active ingredient in Roundup). Due to mounting resistance, GE Roundup Ready crops are being drenched with increasing amounts of this toxic herbicide. Studies have already confirmed that glyphosate alters and destroys beneficial gut flora in animals, as evidenced by the increasing instances of lethal botulism in cattle
    • Recent research also reveals that your gut bacteria are a key component of glyphosate’s mechanism of harm, as your gut microbes have the identical pathway used by glyphosate to kill weeds!

Your gut bacteria are also very sensitive to and can be harmed by:

Antibiotics, unless absolutely necessary (and when you do, make sure to reseed your gut with fermented foods and/or a probiotics supplement) Conventionally-raised meats and other animal products, as CAFO animals are routinely fed low-dose antibiotics, plus genetically engineered grains, which have also been implicated in the destruction of gut flora
Chlorinated and/or fluoridated water Antibacterial soap

How to Reseed Your Gut Flora

Considering the fact that an estimated 80 percent of your immune system is located in your gut, reseeding your gut with healthy bacteria is important for the prevention of virtually ALL disease, both physical and mental. The first step is to clean up your diet and lifestyle by avoiding the items listed above. Then, to actively reseed your gut with beneficial bacteria, you’ll want to:

    • Radically reduce your sugar intake. I’m being repetitive here, to drive home the point that you can take the best fermented foods and/or probiotic supplements, but if you fail to reduce your sugar intake you will sabotage your efforts to rebuild your gut flora. This would be similar to driving your car with one foot on the accelerator and one on the brake simultaneously. Simply not a good strategy at all. When you consume sugar at the level of the typical American you are virtually guaranteed to have a preponderance of pathogenic bacteria, yeast and fungi, no matter what supplements you are taking.
    • Eat traditionally fermented, unpasteurized foodsFermented foods are the best route to optimal digestive health, as long as you eat the traditionally made, unpasteurized versions. Some of the beneficial bacteria found in fermented foods are also excellent chelators of heavy metals and pesticides, which will also have a beneficial health effect by reducing your toxic load. Healthy choices include:
      • Fermented vegetables
      • Lassi (an Indian yoghurt drink, traditionally enjoyed before dinner)
      • Fermented milk, such as kefir
      • Natto (fermented soy)

Ideally, you want to eat a variety of fermented foods to maximize the variety of bacteria you’re consuming. Fermented vegetables, which are one of my new passions, are an excellent way to supply beneficial bacteria back into our gut. And, unlike some other fermented foods, they tend to be palatable, if not downright delicious, to most people.

As an added bonus, they can also be a great source of vitamin K2 if you ferment your own using the proper starter culture. We tested samples of high-quality fermented organic vegetables made with our specific starter culture, and a typical serving (about two to three ounces) contained not only 10 trillion beneficial bacteria, it also had 500 mcg of vitamin K2, which we now know is a vital co-nutrient to both vitamin D and calcium. Most high-quality probiotics supplements will only supply you with a fraction of the beneficial bacteria found in such homemade fermented veggies, so it’s your most economical route to optimal gut health as well.

  • Take a high-quality probiotic supplement. Although I’m not a major proponent of taking many supplements (as I believe the majority of your nutrients need to come from food), probiotics are an exception if you don’t eat fermented foods on a regular basis.

Nurture Your Gut for Optimal Health and Mental Well-Being

Foods have an immense impact on your body and your brain, and eating whole foods as described in my nutrition plan is the best way to support your mental and physical health.

Mounting research indicates the bacterial colonies residing in your gut may in fact play key roles in the development of brain, behavioral and emotional problems—from depression to ADHD, autism and more serious mental illness like schizophrenia. Certainly, when you consider the fact that the gut-brain connection is recognized as a basic tenet of physiology and medicine, and that there’s no shortage of evidence of gastrointestinal involvement in a variety of neurological diseases, it’s easy to see how the balance of gut bacteria can play a significant role in your psychology and behavior.

With this in mind, it should also be crystal clear that nourishing your gut flora is extremely important, from cradle to grave, because in a very real sense you have two brains, one inside your skull and one in your gut, and each needs its own vital nourishment.

Cultured foods like raw milk yogurt and kefir, some cheeses, and fermented vegetables are good sources of natural, healthy bacteria. So my strong recommendation would be to make cultured or fermented foods a regular part of your diet; this can be your primary strategy to optimize your body’s good bacteria.

If you do not eat fermented foods on a regular basis, taking a high-quality probiotic supplement is definitely recommended. A probiotic supplement can be incredibly useful to help maintain a well-functioning digestive system when you stray from your healthy diet and consume excess grains or sugar, or if you have to take antibiotics.

As Fecal Transplants Cure and Save Lives, FDA Classifies Poop as a Drug and Restricts It

coconut oil bacteria As Fecal Transplants Cure and Save Lives, FDA Classifies Poop as a Drug and Restricts It

Health Impact News

Back in January of this year (2013), we reported how the effective treatment of using fecal transplants was curing patients with Clostridium difficile (C. diff) with outstanding success. C. diff is a bacteria that is resistant to antibiotic treatment and has become epidemic in hospitals and nursing homes. A study published the New England Journal of Medicine, that made mainstream news back in January, showed how Fecal Microbiata Transplant (FMT) was curing C. diff at an incredible rate. FMT is therapy that puts fecal matter from a person with good gut flora directly into the colon of the sick person. It has literally saved people’s lives.

Many doctors around the world have been experimenting with this therapy for diseases other than C. diff, including bowel diseases such as Ulcerative Colitis and Crohn’s Disease. Some of the doctors that we quoted back in January who were utilizing this therapy in the U.S. were becoming concerned that the FDA might step and try to control this therapy, in spite of the fact that there are virtually no recorded major side effects, only testimonies to very dramatic healings.

Well unfortunately, that is exactly what the FDA did. Because doctors were using fecal matter from healthy people to cure C. diff and other diseases, it stepped in and declared fecal matter as a “drug.” Since it is a drug they have not approved, it now officially in Phase 1 of the drug research and approval process, a process that can take many years. In a letter from the FDA to the American Gastroenterological Association (AGA), they stated that FMT is not to be used by physicians, other than in life saving situations subject to a formal IND (Investigational New Drug) application.

So why would the FDA make the ridiculous claim that someone’s healthy poop is a drug, and start regulating a safe therapy that has saved so many lives, cured so many with bowel diseases, and has virtually no recorded adverse effects? It is far more effective and far more safe than drugs used for the same conditions – not even close!

The Microbiome

Ever since mainstream medicine has decided that probiotic therapy is not only effective, but necessary in overcoming our society’s addiction to antibiotics, there has been increased interest in understanding what is referred to as the “microbiome.” While the best probiotic supplements currently on the market might have 20 to 30 strains of “friendly” bacteria, each person’s own collection of bacteria numbers in the trillions, and with what many researchers consider over 20,000 different species of bacteria.

So isolating and mapping specific bacteria to specific diseases is a huge undertaking, and modern medicine is attempting to do just that, similar to the genome project. As this microbiome research advances, expect new synthetic drugs on the market advertised as treating specific diseases and working similar to FMT, which of course cannot be patented.

With FMT, however, all the guesswork of trying to figure out which bacteria is effective in curing is bypassed by a simple procedure: take ALL of the microbiome from a healthy person via their feces, and transplant that into the sick person. It is nature’s ultimate “super probiotic.” It is simple, affordable, and effective. So simple, that there is a group of people on the Internet doing it at home now. And these are formerly very sick people who are now healthy, or on the road to recovery where they can function as “normal” people again.

This must make the pharmaceutical companies rage with jealousy! So of course the first step was to get the FDA to step in and stop doctors from doing this routinely, and put restrictions on it by classifying it as a drug.

The other step they are taking is securing funding for research so they can develop drugs that they hope will work in similar ways. Here is one announcement published on a drug industry website just a few days ago:

Janssen Biotech and Second Genome have entered into an agreement to focus on microbiome drug discovery, Second Genome announced in a press release. With the goal of advancing novel drug targets, the agreement is focused on therapeutic mechanisms in ulcerative colitis mediated by the bacterial ecosystem living within the human gut, referred to as the microbiome. Second Genome will apply its microbiome modulation discovery platform to characterize the role of bacterial populations in ulcerative colitis.

The microbiome is an emerging area of interest involving research, such as the National Institute of Health’s Human Microbiome Project, to evaluate the symbiotic relationship that bacteria have developed in the human body. “Foundational microbiome research over the past several years has demonstrated that alterations to the microbiome are central to the development of inflammation and metabolic disorders,” said Peter DiLaura, president and CEO at Second Genome, in the press release. (Full story here.)

So while doctors, published research, and home users have already successfully used FMT therapy with miraculous results, our government agencies are spending our tax dollars to restrict this simple and inexpensive therapy so that drug companies can develop patented and profitable drugs instead.

Will the government go after home FMT patients next? While many doctors are now prohibited from practicing FMT, many of them will still help their patients screen potential donors through laboratory tests so they can practice FMT at home safely. These home users of FMT are still a small group, but if they become so large that they take a dent out of the market of competing drugs, could the FDA start going after home FMT users as well?

Testimonials

One of the more popular blogs that gives people instructions on how to do FMT at home also has several testimonies recorded. It is run by Tracy Mac of Australia (outside the reach of the U.S. FDA): The Power of Poo. She has an active Facebook Group that is by invitation only to protect members’ privacy. She has links to how-to videos. There are many other recorded testimonies of FMT cures from home treatments found on the Internet, including this one who states:

 I have not had a flare since then, nor am I taking any prescription immune-suppressing or anti-inflammatory drugs, herbal supplements or pro-biotic,s nor am I on a highly restricted diet like Gluten-Free or the Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD).

But don’t think all the evidence of FMT is purely anecdotal. There is plenty of published research in this area now, and the therapy is nothing new. There is documentation that the therapy is at least 1,700 years old in Chinese Traditional Medicine!

The range of illnesses and diseases that FMT can prove beneficial is almost limitless, as modern research reconfirms that most of our physical health begins in the gut, with our micro flora and our own “micorbiome.” While most of the experience and research in modern times has focused on C. diff and bowel diseases, here is a partial list of illnesses that FMT has also been used for, or could potentially be used for:

The only thing probably holding back this simple, natural and ineffective treatment from being used by more people is the “ick” factor. But, if you are one of the many thousands of people suffering from bowel diseases that makes life almost unbearable, the hope for a better life is a great trade-off for the uncomfortable feelings of using someone else’s poop.

I don’t know how the FDA can get away regulating your fecal material as a drug, and I hope some doctor will defy their tyrannical authority and challenge them in court. For those who don’t have healthy family members who can function as donors, a good donor screening program is essential for this therapy to reach its potential of healing so many people.

Copyright 2013 – Health Impact News – Permission to republish according to Creative Common Standards permitted.

UPDATE: On June 17 the FDA released an announcement stating they will not require doctors to follow the full IND procedure as a requirement to administer FMT. But they are still claiming it is an unapproved drug.

by Attorney Jonathan Emord

June 20, 2013

By Dr. Mercola

The bacteria, fungi, viruses and other microorganisms that comprise your body’s microflora actually outnumber your body’s cells 10 to 1, and it’s now becoming increasingly clear that these tiny organisms play a MAJOR role in your health—both physical and mental.

The impact of your microflora on your brain function has again been confirmed by UCLA researchers who, in a proof-of-concept study, found that probiotics (beneficial bacteria) indeed altered the brain function in the participants.

As reported by UCLA:1

“Researchers have known that the brain sends signals to your gut, which is why stress and other emotions can contribute to gastrointestinal symptoms. This study shows what has been suspected but until now had been proved only in animal studies: that signals travel the opposite way as well.

‘Time and time again, we hear from patients that they never felt depressed or anxious until they started experiencing problems with their gut,’ [Dr. Kirsten] Tillisch said. ‘Our study shows that the gut–brain connection is a two-way street.'”

The study, published in the peer-reviewed journal Gastroenterology,2 claims the discovery “carries significant implications for future research that could point the way toward dietary or drug interventions to improve brain function.” Naturally, I urge you to embrace dietary changes here, opposed to waiting for some “miracle drug” to do the work for you…

Yes, Your Diet Affects Your Brain Function

The study enlisted 36 women between the ages of 18 and 55 who were divided into three groups:

  • The treatment group ate yogurt containing several probiotics thought to have a beneficial impact on intestinal health, twice a day for one month
  • Another group ate a “sham” product that looked and tasted like the yogurt but contained no probiotics
  • Control group ate no product at all

Before and after the four-week study, participants’ underwent functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scans, both while in a state of rest, and in response to an “emotion-recognition task.” For the latter, the women were shown a series of pictures of people with angry or frightened faces, which they had to match to other faces showing the same emotions.

“This task, designed to measure the engagement of affective and cognitive brain regions in response to a visual stimulus, was chosen because previous research in animals had linked changes in gut flora to changes in affective behaviors,” UCLA explains.

Interestingly, compared to the controls, the women who consumed probiotic yogurt had decreased activity in two brain regions that control central processing of emotion and sensation:

  • The insular cortex (insula), which plays a role in functions typically linked to emotion (including perception, motor control, self-awareness, cognitive functioning, and interpersonal experience) and the regulation of your body’s homeostasis, and
  • The somatosensory cortex, which plays a role in your body’s ability to interpret a wide variety of sensations

During the resting brain scan, the treatment group also showed greater connectivity between a region known as the “periaqueductal grey” and areas of the prefrontal cortex associated with cognition. In contrast, the control group showed greater connectivity of the periaqueductal grey to emotion- and sensation-related regions. According to UCLA:

“’The researchers were surprised to find that the brain effects could be seen in many areas, including those involved in sensory processing and not merely those associated with emotion,’ Tillisch said…

‘There are studies showing that what we eat can alter the composition and products of the gut flora — in particular, that people with high-vegetable, fiber-based diets have a different composition of their microbiota, or gut environment, than people who eat the more typical Western diet that is high in fat and carbohydrates,’ [senior author Dr. Emeran] Mayer said. ‘Now we know that this has an effect not only on the metabolism but also affects brain function.'”

What is really remarkable to me is that this study showed any improvement at all, since they used commercial yogurt preparations that are notoriously unhealthy foods loaded with artificial sweeteners, colors, flavorings, and sugar. Most importantly the vast majority have virtually clinically insignificant levels of beneficial bacteria. Clearly, you would be far better off making your own yogurt from raw milk.

Your Gut May Hold the Key to Better Brain Health

You may not be aware that you actually have two nervous systems:

  • Central nervous system, composed of your brain and spinal cord
  • Enteric nervous system, which is the intrinsic nervous system of your gastrointestinal tract

Both are created from identical tissue during fetal development—one part turns into your central nervous system while the other develops into your enteric nervous system. These two systems are connected via the vagus nerve, the tenth cranial nerve that runs from your brain stem down to your abdomen. It is now well established that the vagus nerve is the primary route your gut bacteria use to transmit information to your brain.

While many think of their brain as the organ in charge, your gut actually sends far more information to your brain than your brain sends to your gut… To put this into more concrete terms, you’ve probably experienced the visceral sensation of butterflies in your stomach when you’re nervous, or had an upset stomach when you were very angry or stressed. The flip side is also true, in that problems in your gut can directly impact your mental health, leading to issues like anxiety and depression.

For instance, in December 2011, the Journal of Neurogastroenterology and Motility3 reported the novel finding that the probiotic (good bacteria) known as Bifidobacterium longum NCC3001 has been shown to help normalize anxiety-like behavior in mice with infectious colitis. Separate research4 also found the probiotic Lactobacillus rhamnosus had a marked effect on GABA (an inhibitory neurotransmitter that is significantly involved in regulating many physiological and psychological processes) levels in certain brain regions and lowered the stress-induced hormone corticosterone, resulting in reduced anxiety- and depression-related behavior.

Just as you have neurons in your brain, you also have neurons in your gut — including neurons that produce neurotransmitters like serotonin, which is also found in your brain. In fact, the greatest concentration of serotonin, which is involved in mood control, depression and aggression, is found in your intestines, not your brain. It’s quite possible that this might be one reason why antidepressants, which raise serotonin levels in your brain, are often ineffective in treating depression, whereas proper dietary changes often help…

Your Gut Microbes Can Affect Your Health in Numerous Ways

In recent years, it’s become increasingly clear that the microbes in your gut play a much more vital role in your health than previously thought possible. In fact, probiotics, along with a host of other gut microorganisms, are so crucial to your health that researchers have compared them to “a newly recognized organ.” Besides research implicating gut bacteria in mental health and behavior, other research has shown that your microbiota also has an impact on:

    1. Immune system function: Biologist Sarkis Mazmanian5 believes bacteria can train your immune system to distinguish between “foreign” microbes and those originating in your body. His work is laying the groundwork for new therapies using probiotics to treat a variety of diseases, particularly autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis and Alzheimer’s.

Mazmanian and colleagues were recently awarded the MacArthur Foundation “genius grant” for identifying an organism that originates in the human body (opposed to a fermented food) that has demonstrable health benefits in both animal and human cells. The organism has been named Bacteroides fragillis, and is found in 15-20 percent of humans. His group hopes to one day be able to test this body-originated bacteria in human clinical trials.

    1. Gene expression: Researchers have discovered that the absence or presence of gut microorganisms during infancy permanently alters gene expression. Through gene profiling, they were able to discern that absence of gut bacteria altered genes and signaling pathways involved in learning, memory, and motor control. This suggests that gut bacteria are closely tied to early brain development and subsequent behavior. These behavioral changes could be reversed as long as the mice were exposed to normal microorganisms early in life. But once the germ-free mice had reached adulthood, colonizing them with bacteria did not influence their behavior.

In a similar way, probiotics have also been found to influence the activity of hundreds of your genes, helping them to express in a positive, disease-fighting manner.

    1. Diabetes: Bacterial populations in the gut of diabetics6 differ from non-diabetics, according to a study from Denmark. In particular, diabetics had fewer Firmicutes and more plentiful amounts of Bacteroidetes and Proteobacteria, compared to non-diabetics. The study also found a positive correlation for the ratios of Bacteroidetes to Firmicutes and reduced glucose tolerance. The researchers concluded:

“The results of this study indicate that type 2 diabetes in humans is associated with compositional changes in intestinal microbiota.”

    1. Obesity: The make-up of gut bacteria tends to differ in lean vs. obese people. This is one of the strongest areas of probiotic research to date, and you can read about a handful of such studies here. The bottom line is that restoring your gut flora should be an important consideration if you’re struggling to lose weight.
    2. Autism: Establishment of normal gut flora in the first 20 days or so of life plays a crucial role in appropriate maturation of your baby’s immune system. Hence, babies who develop abnormal gut flora are left with compromised immune systems and are particularly at risk for developing such disorders as ADHD, learning disabilities and autism, particularly if they are vaccinated before restoring balance to their gut flora.

To get a solid understanding of just how this connection works, I highly recommend reviewing the information shared byDr. Natasha Campbell-McBride in this previous interview.

Total Video Length: 1:13:21

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Your Gut Flora Is Constantly Under Attack

Your gut bacteria are vulnerable to your diet and lifestyle. If you eat a lot of sugar, refined grains, and genetically engineered foods (i.e. processed foods and beverages of all kinds, as they are typically loaded with high fructose corn syrup and/or soy, both of which are primary GE crops in the US), your gut bacteria are going to be compromised because processed foods in general will destroy healthy microflora and feed bad bacteria and yeast. Your gut bacteria are also very sensitive to and can be harmed by:

Antibiotics, unless absolutely necessary (and when you do, make sure to reseed your gut with fermented foods and/or a probiotic supplement) Conventionally-raised meats and other animal products, as CAFO animals are routinely fed low-dose antibiotics, plusgenetically engineered grains, which have also been implicated in the destruction of gut flora Processed foods (as the excessive sugars, along with otherwise “dead” nutrients, feed pathogenic bacteria)
Chlorinated and/or fluoridated water Antibacterial soap Agricultural chemicals

How to Optimize Your Gut Flora

Considering the fact that an estimated 80 percent of your immune system is located in your gut, reseeding your gut with healthy bacteria is important for the prevention of virtually ALL diseases, from colds to cancer. To do so, I recommend the following strategies:

    • Avoid processed, refined foods in your diet.
    • Eat traditionally fermented, unpasteurized foodsFermented foods are the best route to optimal digestive health, as long as you eat the traditionally made, unpasteurized versions. Some of the beneficial bacteria found in fermented foods are also excellent chelators of heavy metals and pesticides, which will also have a beneficial health effect by reducing your toxic load. Healthy choices include:
      • Fermented vegetables
      • Lassi (an Indian yoghurt drink, traditionally enjoyed before dinner)
      • Fermented milk, such as kefir
      • Natto (fermented soy)

Ideally, you want to eat a variety of fermented foods to maximize the variety of bacteria you’re consuming. Fermented vegetables, which are one of my new passions, are an excellent way to supply beneficial bacteria back into our gut. And, unlike some other fermented foods, they tend to be palatable, if not downright delicious, to most people.

As an added bonus, they can also be a great source of vitamin K2 if you ferment your own using the proper starter culture. We tested samples of high-quality fermented organic vegetables made with our specific starter culture, and a typical serving (about two to three ounces) contained not only 10 trillion beneficial bacteria, it also had 500 mcg of vitamin K2, which we now know is a vital co-nutrient to both vitamin D and calcium. Most high-quality probiotic supplements will only supply you with a fraction of the beneficial bacteria found in such homemade fermented veggies, so it’s your most economical route to optimal gut health as well.

  • Take a high-quality probiotic supplement. Although I’m not a major proponent of taking many supplements (as I believe the majority of your nutrients need to come from food), probiotics is an exception if you don’t eat fermented foods on a regular basis.

Nurturing Your Gut Flora Is One of the Foundations of Optimal Health

Mounting research indicates the bacterial colonies residing in your gut may play key roles in the development of cancer, asthma, allergies, obesity, diabetes, autoimmune diseases and even brain, behavioral and emotional problems like ADHD, autism and depression. When you consider the fact that the gut-brain connection is recognized as a basic tenet of physiology and medicine, and that there’s no shortage of evidence of gastrointestinal involvement in a variety of neurological diseases, it’s easy to see how the balance of gut bacteria can play a significant role in your psychology and behavior as well.

With this in mind, it should also be crystal clear that nourishing your gut flora is extremely important, from cradle to grave, because in a very real sense you have two brains, one inside your skull and one in your gut, and each needs its own vital nourishment. Eating fermented foods should be your primary strategy, but if you don’t enjoy the taste of fermented foods, taking a probiotic supplement is definitely advised. I recommend looking for a probiotic supplement that fulfills the following criteria, to ensure quality and efficacy:

  • The bacteria strains in the product must be able to survive your stomach acid and bile, so that they reach your intestines alive in adequate numbers
  • The bacteria strains must have health-promoting features
  • The probiotic activity must be guaranteed throughout the entire production process, storage period and shelf life of the product